Amy - posted on 02/04/2014 ( 3 moms have responded )
I'm a single mom. My daughter's dad moved out when she was 2 months old (so in her memory, they have never lived together). He recently decided to file for joint custody. Knowing his love of manipulating people and the way he thrives on "high drama" situations, I'm sure this move is 99% an effort to mess up my life ande 1% about actually spending time with and getting to know his daughter. I teach a college class two nights a week, and he has had an open invitation to babysit our daughter on the nights I'm teaching (which I've done since her birth); he has never once taken me up on it. He has stopped by on the nights I'm not there, but he can't commit to babysitting the entire 4-hour time slot. In fact, he always brings his older son with him, in order to have an excuse that he really can't stay long... our daughter has not seen him one-on-one more than a few times in her life: Xmas and her b-day up until age 4. Since turning 4, never.
So now, he wants some legal agreement re: custody and visitation, after 6 years of seeing her whenever it suited him, maybe once a week, maybe once a month (he has an older son, and sometimes he gets busy with the son; other times he suddenly remembers his daughter and will buy her $200 worth of clothes from the mall and start wanting to see her more...), with the same schedule for the so-called "child support" -- sporadic, just whenever he had some extra out of his paycheck.
I have seen 2 lawyers so far, and they weren't very encouraging... basically although he has done the bare minimum, since he's not a criminal, he will probably get some kind of visitation schedule. I am feeling so discouraged that someone who didn't want to help out during the diaper years, and who still never wants to help out with things like homework and dr appts and transportation to extracurricular activities and so on (LET ALONE CHILD SUPPORT!!!!), can still potentially get custody and weekends with our daughter. I realize that many parents out there deserve this privilige, but it still pisses me off that a parent can do no parenting for 6 years and then decide it might be kinda fun to have his daughter around on weekends! I just wish that there was a custody/visitation formula that took into account how many "key parenting moments" in the child's life the other parent missed, and those who didn't fulfill their quota of diaper changing, midnight ear infections, homework from hell nights, etc. are not allowed to ask for the same generous parenting plans as exes who DID stay in the child's life and who truly tried to be there for their child.
He is not a serial killer, but since our daughter was born, he keeps turning into more and more of a Peter Pan. He can't manage to pay $3 a month for our daughter's Gerber Grow Up Plan, let alone anything more costly or more complicated.
On a personal note, I want as little contact with him as possible. The only useful things I can see our daughter learning from unsupervised time with him are: how to deal with an egotistical jerk; how to live with a close family member who is incapable of empathy or selflessness or love; and how to assert herself when he tries to bully her into expressions of physical & emotional affection that she's not comfortable with. If we're lucky. I think it's unfair that she should be expected to be on her own with someone like him, though. I can see LOTS of therapy in her future if this really moves forward.
Is anyone else in a similar boat?
Has anyone else survived this nightmare?
I want to try for sole custody, but the lawyers act like it's barely worth considering. I just don't understand how the legal system can view him as (sort of) equal to me, and how he can still have any parental rights to exercise...
Please don't share any "tough love" or "devil's advocate" type responses. I am worn down and just want kindness and support right now. If I want tough love and devil's advocate views, I can talk to my parents-- thanks in advance!!